Match: OL Reign (11-4-7, 40pts) vs Kansas City Current (10-6-6, 36pts)
When: Sunday, October 23 at 6:30 p.m. CT
Where: Lumen Field – Seattle, Washington
Watch: CBS Sports Network in the United States and Twitch abroad
Listen: ESPN Kansas City Radio, 94.5 FM | 1510 AM
The fifth seed Kansas City Current (10-6-6, 36pts) travel to the northwest to face the NWSL Shield winning OL Reign (11-4-7, 40pts) Sunday in the semifinal round of the NWSL playoffs. The Current won their first-round matchup with the Houston Dash by a score of 2-1.
The Current set two NWSL playoff records with their goals. The earliest goal by a road team in NWSL playoff history, a 5th minute penalty by none other than Lo LaBonta. Then Kate Del Fava scored the game winner in the 100th minute, the latest non-extra time goal in NWSL history, including regular season and playoffs. It was Del Fava’s first professional goal as well.
The OL Reign has been idle since earning a bye with their first-place finish.
Previous Meetings: The Current and the Reign split the regular season with 1-0 wins for the respective home teams. The first meeting on May 25th saw a COVID-weakened team going against a full-strength Reign side. Kansas City was missing their coach, the heart of the team and designated penalty taker/celebration lead LaBonta and others. With only six subs (two keepers and an emergency player), the Current were worn down under immense pressure, finally conceding in the 80th minute.
The second meeting was in July and the Current was missing captain Desiree Scott for national team duty with Canada but the Reign were missing players like Alana Cook, Sofia Huerta, Rose Lavelle, and Megan Rapinoe. The visitors still brought a strong lineup but missed some quality on every line.
Victoria Pickett drew a penalty and Labonta put it away in the 18th minute. The stats were relatively even but the Current were the better team that day.
Award nominees vs award nominees
The match features two of the three coach of the year nominees in Matt Potter and Laura Harvey. San Diego Wave coach Casey Stoney is the third. On the field AD Franch and Phallon Tullis-Joyce are both up for keeper of the year. Kailen Sheridan from San Diego is the third.
The Reign also have two defender of the year nominees with Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta up for the award.
Current will be missing Claire Lavogez
The French international will miss the rest of the year with an ACL injury suffered in the win over Houston. Coach Potter has a number of options but it will be interesting to see how he lines the team up without the talented Lavogez.
Coach Potter explained, “The same options we’ve been using all year. Elyse Bennett has come in and played well. Addie McCain’s played well earlier in the season, Chloe Lagarzo is back in the mix, we can move Alex forward, we can move Halie forward which we’ve done. We’ve got multiple options to try and figure out a way to solve the game. But again, this team has been doing it all season so why would this be any different?”
When asked about his thoughts on the Reign, Current head coach Matt Potter responded, “Well, I think first and foremost they’re one of the best in the league, I have a high regard for their staff and Laura (Harvey). The talent that they have is undeniable on the team, the collective ideas that they tried to put out there, they’re fun to watch sometimes. So, the reality is we expect everything and anything that they have to offer and that’s exactly what everybody should be thinking right now. They’re going to have to think about us in the same way, it’s that time of year where you just know that you’ve got to be at your best and whatever your best self is, put it out there. And that’s what we hope to do.”
Jaycie Johnson (right leg)
Sam Mewis (SEI- right leg)
Mallory Weber (SEI- right leg)
Lynn Williams (SEI- right leg)
Claire Lavogez (ACL)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: N/A
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas City Current midfielder Alex Loera — With Lavogez out, she may be called for to fill in a midfield role. Loera has demonstrated a great flexibility for a rookie and contributed to both goals for the Current in their first playoff win.
Kansas City keeper AD Franch – The Reign will be firing on all cylinders with international level players all across the field and will find their shots. It will be up to the backline and Franch to keep them out. Franch has had a mostly stellar year and is deservedly in the running for goalkeeper of the year. The Current will need Franch to continue that great play in goal.
OL Reign keeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce — The Reign keeper is also up for the keeper of the year award and has also been stellar between the pipes for the Reign. Tullis-Joyce will probably not face as many shots as her counterpart on Kansas City, but will need to be sharp facing a team that likes to counter and can be very fluid in the attack at times.